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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > August 2016 > Great Adventures: Captain James Cook

Great Adventures: Captain James Cook

As Pat Kinsella explains, Captain James Cook’s globe-spanning voyages not only revealed previously uncharted lands, but were also packed with adventure and bloodshed


PARADISE FOUND Captain James Cook’s three voyages greatly enlightened the Western world about life in the South Pacific


The final NASA Space Shuttle was named after HMS Endeavour, the ship on which Cook first navigated the globe.

“Ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go”

Captain James Cook

Captain James Cook rose from humble beginnings in Yorkshire to become the most accomplished explorer of his age. A taciturn man, he was nonetheless a natural leader and diplomat, held in high esteem even by England’s many enemies in a violent era. He managed to negotiate peacefully with the great majority of indigenous communities he encountered during his globe-defining adventures.

Cook’s journeys and discoveries had a profound impact on the fortunes of millions of people. He christened countless natural features around the planet, while his own name now adorns numerous places and landmarks around the world he circled several times. But his ultimate fate was as gory and inglorious as it was untimely.

By the time Cook embarked on his third and final fateful expedition, he had already circumnavigated the planet twice and added thousands of miles of new coastline to the world map – so accurately, in fact, that some of his charts were still being used well into the 20th century.

Technically, Cook had hung up his captain’s hat once he’d returned from his second major voyage in 1775, but the explorer embraced retirement reluctantly and made it well known to the Admiralty that he was looking for another opportunity to hit the high seas.


The restless Yorkshireman didn’t have to wait long for his chance. Within a year, Cook spotted an opportunity to have a crack at finding, navigating and charting the elusive North West Passage, a hypothetical sea route between the north Atlantic and north Pacific. London merchants were waiting desperately for someone to unlock the passage, so they could easier trade with the Far East.

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About History Revealed

August 2016 issue of History Revealed.